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B1G Hockey: Feb 20-22 Preview

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Previewing Minnesota-Penn State, Michigan State-Wisconsin, and Michigan-Ohio State. The race is heating up with 4 weeks left.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

We have another full slate of conference games this week.  Minnesota travels to Happy Valley for the first meeting of the season between the Gophers and Nittany Lions.  Michigan State will head west to Madison for their first series with the Badgers.  Michigan will travel to Columbus on Friday and host the Buckeyes on Sunday to finish off their season series.

Minnesota at Penn State

Pegula Ice Arena; State College, Pennsylvania
Friday @ 6:30/5:30 pm et/ct on BTN
Saturday @ 5/6 pm et/ct on ESPNU

The Gophers and Nittany Lions square off for the first time this season at Pegula Ice Arena.  Minnesota can turn this into a two (or one) team race with a strong weekend.  Penn State needs to win this series to have a shot at a bye in the B1G tournament and the Conference Crown.  The Gophers are on a tear, going 5-0-1 in their last 6 scoring 29 while yielding 10.  The key for Penn State is to get a lot of pucks on net and get early goals to get the crowd in it.  The KRACH ratings project 3.8 pts for Minnesota and 2.2 pts for Penn State.  Penn State will be without David Glen on Friday as he was suspended by the Big Ten for Butt-Ending (jabbing a player with the butt end of his stick) a player on MSU Saturday evening.  Butt-Ending is usually a 5 minute major with a game misconduct.  If the penalty is missed during the game, the league may suspend a player for one game, like in this case.  Glen is a role player for Penn State so his loss shouldn't be that big.  Minnesota's Vinni Lettieri took a puck off the side of the head in Saturday's game against Michigan and his status is uncertain for Friday.   The Gophers appear to be firing on all cylinders, and if that is the case, no one in the B1G is going to stop them.  I'm calling a third straight sweep for the Gophs. MN 6 -  0 PSU.

Michigan State at Wisconsin

Kohl Center; Madison, Wisconsin
Friday @ 9/8 pm et/ct on BTN
Saturday @ 8/7 pm et/ct on The Wisconsin Channel (Wisconsin Public TV)

The Spartans and Badgers will face off for the first time this season in Madison.  Michigan State is coming off a home sweep of Penn State which vaulted them back into the conference race.  Wisconsin is fresh off its first conference win of the season.  MSU is 5-1-0 over its last 6 and looks to continue its streak.  KRACH is projecting 4.5 points for MSU. Hildebrand has been a brick wall lately so I'm going MSU sweep.  MSU 6 - 0 WI. (Please sweep them Sconnie)

Michigan vs Ohio State

Value City Arena; Columbus Ohio on Friday and Yost Ice Arena; Ann Arbor, Michigan
Friday @ 7/6 pm et/ct on BTN Plus
Sunday @ 8/7 pm est/cst on FSD+ (UM) and STO (OSU)

Michigan and Ohio State will complete their season series with a home and home on Friday and Sunday.  Michigan defeated Ohio State by healthy margins in their last two games (8-3 in December at Yost, and 10-6 last month in Columbus).  Defense is optional in this series so expect a lot of goals.  Michigan's Captain, Andrew Copp, is questionable for this series after leaving Saturday's game with an upper-body injury.  KRACH is projectign 4.5 points for Michigan.  OSU doesn't have the elite defense or goaltending of MSU and Minnesota so I'm predicting a Wolverine sweep.  
MI 6 - 0 OSU. If Copp doesn't play, I'll switch my prediction to a split. (Please sweep them OSU)

UNO

UNO heads up to St. Cloud this weekend for a pair against the Huskies.  KRACH is projecting UNO taking 3.96 points this weekend.  KRACH also has NoDak taking 4.4 and Miami taking 2.77.  UNO needs to earn at least 4 to keep NoDak in striking distance.